Squirrelly in the Winter–Call Me Kit

They malign me when they call me Gutter Squirrel, ’cause that is the route I used to the take out joint they call the Food Dish. First of all, it is a squirrel feeder or maybe if you’re particular, a squirrel/bird feeder. There is no dish involved. It’s a block of seed or maybe fruit and seed, usually incarcerated in a metal cage.

Call me Kit, ’cause I’m the pathfinder who discovered the route to the Food Dish. Don’t let them tell you it was Hoover, the jumping squirrel. It has to be directly over his head for him to find anything. He can’t even make it home to our drey, unless its still daylight.

Squirrel Drey (home) in the tree

This past fall, the Food Dish, tried to commit suicide by falling off the nail it was on and crashing to the ground. The fat humans tried to blame me, but there are no witnesses. I can neither confirm or deny that I avoided ending up as squirrel tartar for some buzzard by jumping off before that thing hit the ivy. Or maybe it fell off the hook when I was pulling it up closer to the gutter where I was hanging. I’m not admitting anything.

The fat male finally got tired of putting the Food Dish back on that same hook so he moved it to a nail on the porch side of the roof overhang rather than directly under the gutter.

Since I knew the Food Dish location very well, I crawled up on the roof and hung from the gutter a few days in a row, just to make sure I wasn’t the one who had misplaced the Food Dish. No, it was the fat male.

I had to get creative to access the new location. First, I tried hanging from the gutter and swinging over to the cage, but it was too far for even me to stretch. Let’s not discuss the sideways jump from the vertical support–if it weren’t for my squirrel- like reflexes, I’d have ended up as Squirrel Tartar. But you can’t outwit me-my vertical jump would win me a gold medal if there were ever a Rodent Olympics. Now I’m back dining at the Food Dish as often as the fat male condescends to restock it.

Some other, less talented squirrels show up to eat the food that falls from the Food Dish, ’cause even a gourmand such as myself can’t help the seeds from falling away from the brick.

What Would Hoover Think?: Another Attempt to Slow Down Enterprising Squirrels

Since we moved to Central Virginia,  we have had an ongoing struggle making our bird feeder more squirrel proof.  We are on our third feeder and the squirrels have outwitted us every step of the way.

Jean Marie Oliviere sent me a link to the Ninja Warrior  Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder.  Mark Rober put a lot of thought and effort into building his squirrel proof feeder and documenting the success or lack  thereof of his attempts.

If you enjoy watching cheeky tree rats  engage in a battle of wits with humans, then you will love the four squirrels in this Building A Perfect Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder.


Squirrelly in the Summer: Hoover’s Rebuttal

Squirrel feeding from second feederHi there,  It’s about time you heard the other side of the story.  There have been a few slanderous blog postings over the past year about how I have trashed three plastic bird feeders, scattered seeds all of the patio, and hogged the bird feeder so the poor birds seldom get a chance to use it.  Squirrel poop!  They call us Tree Rats–if that is not a clear defamation of character, then I don’t know what is.

They put the first bird feeder on the front window.  It was  next to the dogwood tree and adjacent to the side screen.  I noticed this new take out one morning when I was making my usual rounds–to make sure other squirrels don’t invade MY yard.  I just stopped by to make sure it was up to my standards when the female harpy started pounding on the window.  It startled the squirrel pee right out of me.  I tried to ignore her, but she would not stop.  What’s a squirrel to do?   I was trying to eat  my lunch, when the suction cups let go.  Thanks for my squirrel-like reflexes, I was able to safely jump aside when the cheap thing committed suicide by crashing to the sidewalk.

Cardinal feeding during the snow storm

Humans just don’t learn.  They tried again with another type of cheap plastic bird ,or should I say squirrel, feeder that they once again loosely attached to the front window by suction cups.  Even a bird’s brain could figure out that the second one would not last any longer than the first one did.

The third time they got a bit smarter and bought one that hung from the tree.  At least this one did not fall down.  It was also harder for them to see it.  (They are old and must not have much of a life, if watching me  eat is part of their so-called entertainment.)  Unfortunately, my teeth chewed through the plastic while I was digging for seeds. Maybe I should sue them for possible internal injuries caused by plastic fragments.

Finally they got smart enough to buy a metal feeder.  They attached it to the porch so they can still me eat from the window, but it doesn’t fall off just because I condescend to eat from this latest take-out joint.  The male (who is larger and fatter than the female) likes to sit out on the back porch with his wine and watch me eat.  Being the athletic type, I jump three times my height to hang from the feeder by my hind legs.  To eat, I do crunches to the bottom of the feeder where I grab a few seeds then eat them while I’m hanging upside down.  The male can’t do that.  He only gets up to sweep away the excess seeds left the sloppy birds, pour himself another glass of wine, or fetch some nuts which he leaves on the table for me to eat when/if he goes back into the house .  If I don’t show enough interest in the food, he will throw the nuts at me.  I am not some domesticated dog, I don’t play fetch!

Hoover Hanging upside downSometime the female harpy joins him on the back porch.  She mostly reads and drinks water.  Sometimes she will drink wine too.  I don’t know what those two eat, but it is a lot.  Neither of them looks like they get much exercise.  Even if my girlfriend, Lucy, can’t jump up to reach the feeder, she can at least jump up on the porch, eat what is on the ground before going back out into the yard to frolic with me or climb back up the beech tree where we have our home.



Squirrelly in the Spring: Showing Our Mettle

After the Squirrels destroyed 3 plastic feeders in a row, we decided to go full court metal.




First we hung the new metal bird feeder out on the Beech tree where the plastic one had hung.  It barely slowed  Hoover, the squirrel, down.  He and his buddies managed to eat the entire cone down in 3 days.  Bob filled it up again and Hover finished it again.  It was as simple as hanging upside down from the branch and pulling the feeder  toward him.

DSC01129Bob moved it closer to the house.  He nailed it to the back porch.  Hoover had a much harder time getting to it.  We did not discover how he managed to do this, but during one attempt, he rode the feeder to the ground like Slim Pickens riding the rocket to the ground in Dr. Strangelove. CRASH!  Hoover had already run off but the feeder lay on the ground, surrounded by lose seed.

Bob secured the feeder with a stronger nail. Hoover is not impressed.  He jumps onto the screen at the kitchen window.  (I’m not sure if this is squirrel terrorism or he is checking to see if we are inside.)  He scent marks the railing of the porch by leaving regular puddles of squirrel urine.

Hover feeding from the new feederFinally I saw Hoover leap vertically from the railing and land upside down on the bottom of the feeder, where a bird would perch.  He coils his body around the lip and inserts his  nose through the metal bars in the feeder, nibbling off bits of the seed cone.  He can’t hang on to completely devour the cone in one visit like he could from the tree.

Measuring the feeder from the railingWe measured the distance and it s 38 inches from the railing to the bottom of the feeder–a good vertical high jump for an animal that is 9-11 inches long (not including the tail).

As he has become more familiar with the new feeder, he has returned to the more upside down feeding position.

Hoover Hanging upside down

As he has become more familiar with the new feeder, he has returned to the more upside down feeding position.

His friend (maybe girl friend) Lucy is not as robust as Hoover and seems unable to jump up to the feeder.  She often sits on the railing, staring up at the feeder as if trying to figure out a way she can reach it.  So far she has had to make do with the seeds that fall to the porch from Hoover’s hoovering.

Lucy waiting for Hover from the porch railing.JPG

                       Lucy on the porch railing trying to figure how to get up to the feeder.




Sometimes birds, such as this cardinal, get a chance to use the feeder too.  They appreciated it during our recent snow storm.

Squirrely in the Winter: Squirrels-3 Feeders-0

Squirrels have proven to much for every feeder we have put our this winter.

Two were attached to the front window and the squirrels managed to  dislodge and break both of them.Squirrel at bird feederSquirrel feeding from second feeder

We were then naive enough to think that if we got one that hung from the tree, it might be safer.  The squirrel managed to eat the entire contents of the feeder every  3 days.  It wasn’t until Bob went out to fill the feeder, that we found the squirrel was eating more then the seeds.

So it’s back to the drawing board.  Bob is now thinking that maybe we need a flat feeder bird bath-feedersort of like a bird bath.  It will be no problem for the squirrels to hoover, but it may be more resistant to rodent gnawing.  Maybe something like this for example.

Otherwise that squirrel is going to have to forage for himself….


Squirrely in the Winter: Once More into the Fray

Squirrel feeder brand newWe were at the Crozet Hardware store last week to buy some small wood screws for the top of the coffee table.  While we were there, we detoured to see the bird/squirrel feeders.  Bob was looking for one that might attach to a different window than the front one.  Instead of finding one with suction cups, he found one that could be hung from the branch of the beech tree in the back yard.

We brought the feeder home, filled it with bird seed  and hung it up outside.


It rained for the next two days.  On the third day, the squirrel discovered the bird feeder.  To get to it, he had to hang upside down from the limb and swing the  feeder over to him.  In two days, he managed to eat or knock all of the seeds out of the feeder. ( I saw one bird using the feeder.  However I did see several birds eating seeds on the ground, probably left over from what the squirrel dislodged while he was gorging.)

Squirrel feeding upside down at new feeder

While we watched the squirrels today, we saw one jump onto the feeder, twirling it and dislodging the top before he fell, landing on his feet.  (We were not quick enough to catch a picture of him falling.)

Squirrel feeder after the squirrel fell offr

We also saw two squirrels on different trees (the two trees in the squirrel feeding picture above) flicking their tails at each other.  I’m not sure if the one at the feeder was telling the other “Back off, this is mine.”  or “Beware of the humans on the porch.  They’re watching us.” Again, we were not quick enough to catch the two squirrels and a still shot would not have captured the tail flicks.

The squirrels managed to empty the entire feeder  again in 3 days.

Bob refilled it yesterday and the squirrel ate about 20% of it.  Now a cardinal keeps watch over the feeder, from another branch on the tree.Cardinal watching the squirrel feeder


Squirrelly in the Winter–WE SURRENDER!

The squirrel became too demanding.  Before my husband could get the second feeder back up and filled, the squirrel expressed his displeasure by peeing on the window again.  Water once again washed the rodent urine away and the feeder was put back up.

Squirrel feeding from second feeder

It lasted two days.

Squirrel knocked the feeder upside down

The squirrel  managed to turn the feeder upside down and hanging by one suction cup.  All of the food fell to the ground.

feeder without top

Again the squirrel expressed his displeasure by peeing on the window.  The second feeder fell to the ground and broke.

My husband says “That’s it!”  No more.”

I guess that ground food is not good enough for our squirrel because there are still several seeds lying in the dirtSeeds on the ground.jpg.

prickly gum ballLast evening, when I went outside to look at the broken feeder lying in the dirt, something hit me from behind.  Something (or some squirrel) had dislodged a prickly gumball, which bounced off my backside.

Squirrels -2

Feeders- 0.

Squirrelly in the Winter–This Time It’s Personal!

Last summer my husband bought a bird feeder–the kind that attaches to a window with three rubber suction cups so you can watch the birds as they eat the seeds from the tray.    Even after he moved it from the back kitchen window to the living room window in front, no one seemed interested.

As fall turned to winter, a few birds may have come by, but a squirrel found it and fell in love.  He would climb the dogwood in front of the house,  jump onto the small plastic tray and chow down.  He would cling to the screen on the side window while balancing his front paws on the plastic tray.

Squirrel at bird feeder

I discovered him having lunch one afternoon as I was finishing my own lunch.  I went over to the window and tapped at him.  He stopped chewing long enough to give me one of those teen-aged what do you want, looks of disdain.

When I tapped more forcefully, he sprang back from the tray and had all four paws hooked on the screen.  He then let lose a stream of squirrel pee down my window and two dusty paw prints on the glass behind the screen.

When my  husband returned, he threw a bucket of water on the squirrel pee, cleansing it from the window.  He then relocated the squirrel feeder further away  to the middle of the glass.  We hoped that it would make it more difficult for the squirrel to reach the glass.

The squirrel was able to reach the feeder again, but this time he dislodged it.  I can only hope he tumbled to the sidewalk with the feeder, which broke on impact.  (I don’t think the squirrel was impacted at all.)

My husband purchased a second feeder, attached with two suction cups.  The second  feeder was cylindrical in shape, with a red plastic top.

The afternoon after my husband put the new feeder up, the squirrel was back.  He somehow managed to lose the red plastic top.  I searched all around the ground, but it was nowhere to be found.  (Did he put it in his pocket or chew it to bits without leaving bits of red plastic strewn around?)

Today, after the first squirrel finished  chowing down, a second squirrel came for a visit.  This second squirrel lacked the refined technique of the first squirrel and tipped the feeder sideways so that all of the seeds fell to the ground.  At that point, my husband removed the now empty feeder and brought it into the house.  The future of the feeder remains to be seen.

Squirrel one and Squirrel two

Motto of the story:  Don’t get too greedy and be careful who you invite to share you food.  Protect your sources.

Squirrelly in the Fall

 From “When Fall Comes to New England”
by  Cheryl Wheeler

The frost is on the pumpkin

The squash is off the vine

And winter warnings race across the sky

The squirrels are on to something

And they’re working overtime

Foxes blink and stare and so do I.

squirrel had been digging in potThe squirrels have become frenetic in their urge to  bury  nuts.  Flower pots, dirt under the back porch, any seemingly random spot in the yard can at least temporarily, catch a squirrel’s attention as burial spot for nuts. They are caching nuts–which can produce future nut or oak trees or squirrel food for the winter.  “Researchers from the University of Berkeley found that the rodents organized their nut stash by quality, variety, and possibly even preference. The arrangement is referred to by researchers as “chunking.”

Squirrels, aka tree rats, are members of the Sciuridae family and are a form of rodents that include tree squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, woodchucks, and prarie dogs.  People seem fascinated with the little pests.  One of the best ways to see them is watching someone feed them directly under a “Don’t Feed the Squirrels” sign.  Children and senior citizens appear to be squirrels biggest fans.

Marvel Comics launched a new girl superhero in 1991, when LA high school student Doreen Green, became Squirrel Girl after being bullied by her classmates because of her mutation.  She has since teamed up with other superheroes.squirrel girl costumed

Squirrels are found on every continent but Australia and Antarctica.  January 21 is Squirrel Appreciation Day and was founded in 2001 by North Carolina wildlife rehabilitator Christy McKeown.  Squirrels have brought the power grid down more often than hackers because of their four front teeth that can grow up to 6 inches a year.

What is your squirrel story?  Do they make you squirrelly with their antics?  Join in the conversation and vote whether you think that squirrels are cute or just tree rats with a better marketing campaign than other rodents